Flush is one of the strongest poker hands in Texas Hold’em, and when you are lucky to hit your flush draw, you will win the pot most of the time.
However, players often leave a lot of money at the table with flush poker hands by either overvaluing their flushes or not extracting enough value, and this article will help you avoid these situations.
If you’re at the very beginning of your journey and are wondering what is flush in poker, it is a five-card hand containing cards all of the same suit. If you’re holding five hearts or five spades, for example, you have a flush.
Of course, if you’re reading this article, you probably already know what a flush in poker is, so I won’t spend more time explaining it.
Instead, I will take a deep dive into different situations involving a flush or a flush draw and look into ways to improve your play and eliminate certain common mistakes.
Flush in Poker – What You Need to Know About It
To start at the very top, a poker flush is a pretty strong hand in a vacuum. But, like everything else in poker, its actual value can be quite situational.
Sometimes, a flush is more than enough to put your entire stack in the middle; sometimes, you’ll need to have the discipline to fold your hand and move on.
Playing your flush poker draws and made hands is a fairly broad topic, so I will try to break it down in smaller chunks and examine some of the main situations you’ll find yourself in at the tables, like:
- In position vs. out of position
- Flush draws on paired boards
- Nut flush draws vs. other flushes
These and other details can have a significant influence on how you should proceed with your hand. With the help of poker software and additional explanations, I will try to show how to improve your play in this particular segment.
Poker Flush: Strategy When Playing in Position
It should come as no surprise that playing in a position will make your life much easier with almost all types of made hands and draws, so flushes are not an exception.
When you have the position over the original raiser, you can afford to look at more flops and try hit big with suited cards.
However, don’t let the fact you have two suited cards blind you. Many players will play any two suited cards because they “could make a flush.”
The fact of the matter is, you’ll flop a flush only about 0.84% of the time, and you’ll catch a flush draw about 11.79% of the time on the flop.
So, you want to choose hands that also have some other potential like high cards, connectors, etc. Of course, you can afford to expand your range a bit in position, especially when on the button.
I won’t go into too much detail about what hands you should and shouldn’t be playing before the flop, though, as this a whole different topic and the one that you should master before going any further.
So, if you have doubts or want to get perfect opening ranges, just grab my free poker cheat sheet, and you will have access to solved ranges in seconds.
For now, let’s get back to the topic of playing flush poker draws in position and analyze some examples.
This is a fairly typical scenario. A player opened for 2.5x, and you decided to look them up on the button with a suited ace. The flop comes with a poker flush draw, and they fire a standard continuation bet of about half the pot.
As you can see, the Poker Snowie app suggests that you could either flat call or raise, but taking a more aggressive line gives you a chance to win the pot by pure aggression.
If that doesn’t work and you get called, you still have plenty of outs to make the nuts or continue to bluff. That is the beauty of nut flush draws.
Whether you’ll just flat call or raise with your draw will depend a lot on the flop texture.
Your call of the UTG raise on the button indicates a fairly strong range, so you can actually represent a big hand on many high flops.
Although these flops should favor the original raiser, the gap isn’t nearly as big as if you were just making the odds call and defending from the big blind, for example.
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On this type of texture, Snowie recommends just calling 100% of the time. This is a very wet flop, and you won’t achieve much by raising.
This is the kind of board where your opponent is very unlikely to c-bet with a weak hand, so your fold equity is very slim. So, in these spots, raising could cost you equity.
When you’re in position, you have much better control of the pot. However, if you always take a passive line, you won’t be able to win big pots those times when you do hit your draw. So, mixing between raising and calling is the best approach.
If you take an aggressive approach and raise the flop, you’ll want to proceed with a bet on the turn most of the time when checked to you.
That way, you can continue to build the pot and apply pressure, giving yourself another chance to win without a showdown.
However, if you do get called on both the flop and the turn, you’ll need to vary your play on the river. Always firing three barrels isn’t the best idea.
When you miss your flush draw, and the river card doesn’t really change the board much, you can expect the opponent to check – call once again a lot of the time.
Playing Flush Draws and Flushes Out of Position
When you find yourself with a poker flush draw out of position, navigating the situation becomes slightly more complex.
Since you have to act first, you’ll be giving your opponent all the options on the flop and later streets if you take a passive line. If you play aggressively and miss your card, you’ll have a difficult decision on the turn, and that makes all the difference when compared to having a position in poker.
In this scenario, you defended against the CO open and flopped a flush draw. As you can see, this is one of the rare scenarios where a donk bet is a viable option.
However, if you decided to take a more passive line, Snowie suggests calling the continuation bet with nut flush draw OOP is the best approach.
If you miss on the turn, you should check once again, and while your main plan is to call one more time, you can mix in some raises when facing a bet on the turn.
When you do make your hand on the turn, Snowie suggests continuing playing it passively, by just check calling the turn and going for a check/raise on the river.
This is a very tricky approach, but the one that could easily confuse your opponent. Then, if they proceed to try and put in a thin value bet on the river, you can spring your trap and move all in, over-betting the pot.
So, when you’re playing with flushes and flush draws out of position, you can resort to some imaginative lines to throw off your opponents and improve your chances of winning a pot.
Using these techniques will help you overcome the inherent disadvantage of being OP, protect your ranges, and give your opponents a chance to make some mistakes along the way.
Nut Flush vs. Lower Ones
Not every flush in poker is the same. Many beginning players make the mistake of overplaying their small and medium flushes, treating them like the nuts.
The biggest problem with non-nut flushes and draws is that they often have reverse implied odds.
A fair percentage of the time in massive pots, you’ll end up making your hand, only to discover it is the second-best.
One of the best ways to avoid getting in these positions is by reducing the number of suited hands that don’t contain an ace before the flop. But, you can’t completely avoid these spots, either, as you’d be folding way too much and would be missing on some very profitable spots.
Instead, you need to treat non-nut flushes differently and approach them more carefully in most situations.
In all the examples thus far, we covered situations where you’re drawing to the nut flush. In general, one of the best poker tips in these situations to put pressure on your opponent because you can win a hand by aggression or make the absolute nuts by hitting one of your cards.
But, what happens when you’re not actually drawing to the nuts?
In the scenario where you’re out of position with a non-nut flush draw, Snowie suggests a passive approach.
Check-calling your opponent all the way is the best line OOP, with a very small frequency of check-raises on the turn.
You don’t achieve much by overplaying a hand like a Queen-high flush, at least not against competent opponents. You’ll give them a chance to get away from weaker hands and charging you when they actually have the winner.
Of course, like everything else, playing your flush in poker can be quite situational. If you’re up against a player who you know for certain will call you down with a much weaker hand, you can still up the aggression.
That is the beauty of the game, and learning how to play poker versus different players can also vastly increase your winrate.
That being said, these Snowie examples assume you’re facing a competent opponent who’s playing a strategy that’s close to optimal and doesn’t account for any reads you may have picked up on along the way.
When you’re in position drawing to the flush that’s not the nut flush, you should also stick to a more passive approach. In this scenario, faced with a check-raise, Snowie suggests flat calling almost 100% of the time.
Putting in a 3-bet can be very tricky as you might be up against a solid made hand or a flush draw that’s bigger than yours, which puts you in a bad spot.
Do not get carried away just because you have a flush and avoid overplaying these hands in high action situations.
This is particularly true as you move down the ranks. When you have a hand like 7h6h and make a flush, there is a wide range of hands that could have you beat.
Flush and Flush Draws on Paired Boards
Another tricky situation when it comes to poker flush draws is when you have to navigate a paired board. Once the board pairs, there is a possibility of several full houses, all of which beat your flush.
However, not every paired board is equally dangerous.
If you opened and got called, a board like 2 4 2 isn’t too scary as your opponent isn’t that likely to have a deuce in their range. So, the number of trips and potential full house draws is limited to just a few combos.
On the other hand, on a board like JTT, there is a fair number of potential combos that you need to worry about.
There isn’t a magic formula you can apply to every single situation to increase your EV, and a lot of it will depend on the board texture and your general read of your opponent.
Are they someone who can have almost any two cards even in a raised pot, or are they a tight-aggressive type that will only continue with a solid range facing a raise?
In this particular scenario, Snowie suggests checking back the turn 84% of the time after betting the flop and getting called. Although this isn’t the most dangerous of boards, there are still some potential full houses to worry about, and there is no reason to bloat the pot.
Even if they don’t have the made full house, they’re almost never folding a nine, and they’re going to check-raise the turn with many of their 6-X holdings, blowing you off of your equity.
So betting here does not achieve too much.
When you do make your nut flush here, though, and are faced with a lead from the opponent, you still need to raise quite frequently.
You can’t be afraid of monsters under the bed, and you want to get paid with your big hands.
The big blind player will likely bet any 6 here, any straight, and maybe even some two pair combos. So, you can’t just call every time as you’ll be leaving money on the table.
What happens if you do raise and get jammed on? Well, you will have to fold most of the time. It doesn’t feel good, but at this point, your opponent would not shove many hands that you can beat.
Since you have the nut flush, there is no chance your opponent is bluffing just with a blocker.
You do need to call about 16% of the time not to become too exploitable, and they will sometimes overplay a smaller flush or even a straight. In general, though, you need to be ready to release your hand as this kind of river play is usually indicative of a monster.
So while you should not be afraid of betting yourself and extracting value on paired boards, when you do face a lot of aggression, you should carefully evaluate your flush, and don’t be afraid to let it go.
Flush in Poker – Do’s & Don’ts
Hopefully, you now have a good idea of how to approach your flushes and flush draws in different situations. This is a really comprehensive area, and it’s almost impossible to cover it entirely in a single article, no matter how long.
You’ll have to learn from the experience as well using the good, old trial and error method.
That said, sticking to some of the guidelines explained here should make your life easier and give you at least a good starting point for some general situations like paired boards, non-nut draws, etc.
Also, here’s a quick summary of things you should and shouldn’t be doing with your poker flush hands in general.
- Try to see as many cheap flops as you can with hands that can make the nut flush
- Play your draws aggressively to build bigger pots
- Go for value with your made flushes
- Play more suited hands in position
- Give up your hand when it’s clear that you’re beat, as hard as it may be
- Don’t overplay your non-nut flushes in tricky spots
- Don’t be afraid to go for value even on paired boards
- Don’t get too attached to small flushes and flush draws
Clearly, there is a lot to think about in these flush scenarios, and you won’t have it all figured out overnight. But follow these guidelines and learning from your mistakes can take you very far.
Take time to analyze your play in these spots to see what you could improve on, or join one of the best poker training sites if you want a shortcut to this and many other scenarios in poker.